GOP senator hits Trump for his 'fake news' attacks

Sen. Jeff Flake called on Republicans and Democrats to be "allies of the truth and not partners in its destruction."
6:08 | 01/17/18

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Transcript for GOP senator hits Trump for his 'fake news' attacks
Near the beginning of the document that made us free our declaration of independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote we hold these truths to be self evident. So from the very beginning. Our freedom has been predicated on truth. The founders were visionary in this regard. Understanding well good faith and shared facts between the governed in the government. Would be the very basis of this ongoing idea of America. As a distinguished former member of this body Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York famously said. Everyone has title to his own opinion but not its own facts. During this past year and alarmed to say that senator mourning and proposition has likely been tested more severely. Than at any time in our history. Or is that reason that I rise today. To talk about the truth. And the truce relationship to democracy. For without truth and a principled fidelity to truth and a shared facts Mr. President. Our democracy will not last. When he seventeen was a year which saw the truth. Objective empirical evidence based truth more battered and abused and in any time in the history of our country. At the hands of the most powerful figure in our government. It was a year which saw the White House and shrine alternative facts into the American lexicon. A judge as justification for what used to be simply call. Old fashioned alternate. It was a year in which an un relenting. Daily assault on the constitutionally protected free speech was launched by the same White House. An assault that is as unprecedented. As it is unwarranted. The enemy of the people was how the president of the United States called the free press in 2017. Mr. President. It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own Preston uses words in for mostly spoken by Joseph Stalin. To describe his enemies. It bears noting that saw fraught with malice was a phrase enemy of the people that even Nikita Khrushchev for beta its use. Telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of quote. Annihilating such individuals and quote who disagreed with the supreme leader. This alone should be the source of great shame for us in this bought. Especially for those of us in the president's party. Where they are shameful repulsive statement. And of course the president has it precisely backward. Despotism as the enemy of the people. The free press is the desperate enemy. Which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn't suit in fake news. It is that person who should be the figure of suspicion not the press. I did dare say that anyone who's had the privilege and awesome responsibility to serve in this chamber. Knows that these reflects its rulers of fake news are dubious at best. Those of us who travel overseas. Especially to war zones and other troubled areas. All around the globe and counter members of US based media who risk their lives and sometimes lose their lives. Reporting on the truth. To dismiss their work as fake news is an affront to their commitment and their sacrifice. Now we are told by a Twitter that today the president intends to announce his choice for the quote most corrupt and dishonest media awards. It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle. But here we are. And so wrong 2018 must be the year in which the truth takes a stand against power that would weaken it. In this effort the choice is quite simple. And in this effort the truth needs as many allies as possible. To gather my colleagues. We are powerful. Together we have it within us to turn back these attacks. To write these wrongs repair this damage restore reverence for our institutions. And prevent further moral vandalism. Together united in this purpose to do our jobs and the constitution. Without regard to party our party loyalty let us resolve to be allies of the truth. And not partners in its destruction. It is not my purpose here to inventory all the unofficial untruth the past year but a brief survey as an order. Some untruths are trivial. Such as a business is a bizarre contention regarding the crowd size at last year's inaugural. But some untruths are not at all trivial. Such as the seminal and truth and truth of the president's political career. He oft repeated conspiracy about the birth place of Preston Obama. Also not trivial are the equally pernicious fantasies about rigged elections. And massive voter fraud. Which are as destructive as they are inaccurate. To the effort to undermine confidence in the federal courts. Federal law enforcement intelligence community and the free press. To perhaps the most vexing untruth of all. The supposed hopes at the heart of special counsel Robert Mueller's. Russia investigations. George Orwell warned. The further a society drips from the truth. The more it will hate those who speak it. Or any of us who spent time in public life and having delivered news coverage we felt was jaded or unfair. But in our positions to employ even idle threats. To use laws or regulations to stifle criticism. Is corrosive to our democratic institutions. Simply put. It is the press' obligation to uncover the truth about power. It is the people's right to criticize their government. And it is our job to take it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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